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COVID Current Events as of July 6, 2020

Each week, we have been collecting news articles, publications and other items of interest related to COVID and schools to inform ERS' own work to support school districts to manage through the uncertainty. We wanted to make this collection available to district leaders, school leaders, state education leaders and other partners working towards reimagining what school could look like during and after COVID-19. These items are pulled from many sources, but we want to especially acknowledge EdWeek, ASBO's School Business Daily and Vestigo Partners, whose great COVID resources we highly recommend.


Constraints from Social Distancing:

  • The CDC released interim guidance on COVID testing schools; the guidance largely defers to state and local leaders but does note that school staff should not be expected to administer SARS-CoV-2 tests


Student Need:

  • Digital Divide: ~30% of students live in households either without internet connectivity or a device adequate for distance learning
    • ~10% of all teachers lack access to internet connectivity
    • The cost to close the divide for students is estimated to be $6B-$11B and an additional $1B for teachers
  • Highline Public Schools is using mapping software to identify students who lack internet access


Revenue/Cost Projections:

  • Senate democrats released a $430B bill, the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act
  • House Education & Labor Committee Chairman, Bobby Scott, calls for more equitable funding to address funding gaps caused by reduced state and local tax revenue


Implications for System (State Reopening Guidelines):

  • A 5-4 decision in Supreme Court case Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue ruled that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools
    • Although the decision does not directly affect public schools, supporters fear it will help divert resources from public to private education NPR
  • States move towards waiving testing in the ’20-’21 SY
  • A TEA report found that 1 in 10 students have disengaged during the pandemic; a higher proportion of low-income, Black, and Hispanic have disengaged from remote learning than their white or higher income counterparts


Implications for Schools:

  • AZ governor announced a delay in school re-opening, allowing distance learning to begin earlier
  • Mayor DeBlasio reversed course on a proposed $100B cut to NYC public schools but has maintained a hiring freeze

Reopening Plans  (CRPE District Response Tracker):

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools released its re-opening plan that allows families to opt into virtual instruction
    • In-person instruction will be dictated by the proportion of students who have opted for remote instruction:
      • Schoolhouse Model: If <75% of students plan to return in-person, 100% of instruction will take place in-person
      • Hybrid Model: If >75% of students plan to return to in-person instruction, students will return in-person 2-3 days/week
  • Texas district, Spring ISD, released an operational decision maker in which the degree to which the virus is controlled, at the local level, dictates the way in which schools should open

Family/Teacher Surveys:

  • In a June survey of parents in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, 2/3 of respondents said they’re ready to send students back to school in the fall
  • In a School District of Philadelphia survey, 62% of parents said they are comfortable sending their children back
    • 10% of teachers said they were uncomfortable returning to school
  • A Palm Beach County School District survey of parents found that Black and Hispanic parents are less likely to send their children back to school in-person if classes resume August 10th
    • Black parents were twice as likely as white parents to say they would not send their kids back to school in-person
    • Hispanic parents were about 50 percent more likely than white parents to say they would not send their kids back to school in-person

Teachers’ Union Response:

The Washington Teacher's Union is advising its members to ignore a DCPS’ form that asks to teachers to declare their intent to return to school next year or not

  • The teachers’ union in Palm Beach is calling on the school district to keep campuses closed when classes resume in August
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